Potentially Transformative Technologies for Twenty-First Century Space
Space as the discipline to demonstrate economic and political might and as military high ground has pushed human ingenuity into developing new concepts and technologies for the exploration and use of this fourth ‘space’, following land-, sea- and air-spaces. Driven by governmental ambitions and means, space agencies have developed the technologies that have made this new space accessible (chemical rockets), technologies to navigate in it (electric, chemical, nuclear and direct solar propulsion, position and trajectory determination), and to use its resources (e.g. photovoltaic cells). In doing so they have created new markets served by new industries. Some of these have already transitioned from governmental to private sector driven markets, starting with telecom applications in the 1990s. Stimulated by U.S. policy decisions in the early 2000s, the private sector has entered virtually all space domains except deep space exploration. Against this background the present paper attempts to explore potentially game changing technologies for space applications.